V-Mart happy to take a little luck at plate
DETROIT -- Victor Martinez sounds like a man shaking his fist at the gods lording over his batting average on balls put in play.
Martinez's knee, he insists, is not an issue for him right now. His swing mechanics aren't his concern. Where he bats in the order is far from his mind. With his numbers and the Tigers' season fading in kind, Martinez wants hits, and he can't find them.
"If I get out [on a good pitch], I don't care. But once you square a ball, you want results," Martinez said.
Martinez is on pace for career lows in batting average, on-base percentage and OPS. His offensive Wins Above Replacement is in negative territory for the first time in his career. But his .251 BABIP entering Wednesday's game against the Angels was not just a career low, it would be his lowest for a season by 35 points. He has had a BABIP over .300 every season since 2004, when he posted a .286 mark.
Martinez has had more than his share of weak contact this season, especially early in the year. About 20.7 percent of his balls put in play were hit with soft speed, according to Baseball Info Solutions, compared with 28.6 percent hard contact. Yet those numbers are comparable with his 2011 season, when he batted .330 with 40 doubles, 12 home runs, 103 RBIs and an .850 OPS.
Martinez's 40.8 ground-ball percentage entering play Wednesday was comparable with recent seasons, according to fangraphs.com. His 20.1 line-drive percentage would be his lowest as a Tiger, but higher than his 2010 season in Boston (17.0 percent). His contact rate is down from recent seasons, but not at career lows.
He has made adjustments at the plate, but nothing that has sustained success. At this point, he's looking for some luck to get him going, which is a bad place for a hitter to be this late in a season.
"It's been definitely the toughest year of my career, by far, battling the injury and all that," Martinez said. "But yeah, you go around every hitter, it's the same thing. Every hitter wants to square a ball up and they want results. It's a lot of, 'Good swing, good swing, good swing.' I want results, and everybody wants results.
"I got a hit the other day that the ball hit the grass and went over the second baseman's head. I was like, 'Finally, thank God, I got one of those.' What can you do? You just keep focused, keep going out there and putting good swings up."
For now, Martinez appears set to keep swinging from the cleanup spot. Though manager Brad Ausmus said Tuesday night the idea of moving Martinez down in favor of J.D. Martinez had been discussed, the skipper downplayed the possibility Wednesday afternoon.